Port Elizabeth – Business confidence in the Eastern Cape continues to suffer because of the protracted infighting within the ruling ANC, organised business in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality says.
The Eastern Cape Black Management Forum (BMF) and the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc), together with local economists, have expressed concern at the internal squabbles of the ANC and have called for an immediate resolution to the matter as it is affecting the image of the region, making potential investors sceptical.
The region has been experiencing ugly power battles between the ANC’s regional leadership led by Nceba Faku, and its deployees in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, headed by Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile.
This has also adversely affected service delivery, resulting in numerous violent protests by residents rightfully demanding better services.
Eastern Cape BMF chairperson Dumisani Mpafa said it was sad that the problem was happening in Port Elizabeth, which is the economic hub of the province.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay region is our economic hub in the Eastern Cape, and what is currently happening impacts negatively on the province’s economy.
It is untenable. If the ANC allows it to continue, it will spiral and that is not good for business. For the Eastern Cape economy to function, we definitely need the full participation of Port Elizabeth.
“If these squabbles continue, attention which was supposed to be focused on the development of the province’s economy will now be directed elsewhere to resolve the infighting. As the business community, we are concerned,” said Mpafa.
He appealed to the ruling party to resolve the matter “urgently” so that the image of the region is not further tarnished, causing investors to shun it.
Mpafa said there are huge projects at the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ) that might suffer because of political spats.
“We are competing for investment with many other regions such as Durban and Cape Town. If potential investors see the business environment in our region is not conducive, they will obviously move somewhere else, and we don’t want that to happen,” he said.
Although not officially confirmed, there has been talk that the PetroSA Mthombo oil refinery project to be established at the Coega IDZ might be moved to Richards Bay.
Local economist Dr Neal Bruton, a former economic analyst with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, also reiterated that no investors would put their money where they are not sure of getting returns.
He said: “There is no doubt, this [political infighting] has a negative effect on the region. It does not encourage investors and should be resolved as soon as possible.”
Nafcoc Nelson Mandela Bay region interim chairperson, Speedo Nondumo, said he has already had meetings with the ANC parties involved to find a solution.
“We are in an area which should be developing fast economically because of the Coega IDZ, but because of certain greedy people who want to enrich themselves, we might kiss our economic development dream goodbye,” said Nondumo.
“Investors are very sensitive. If they see anything that is likely to interfere with their investment, they withdraw,” he said.
Despite the political infighting in the region being extensively publicised in the media, the regional ANC denied there were problems.
The party’s regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said the political infighting was the creation of the media.